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Behavior Change
Google, Prince Harry Aiming to Help People, Industry Decarbonize Travel

Google’s new ‘green’ Maps feature highlights users’ lowest-carbon transport options; while new Travalyst initiative aims to protect destinations by encouraging sustainable practices across the travel industry.

The Duke of Sussex launches new global sustainable travel initiative, ‘Travalyst’

Led by His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex (aka Prince Harry) and co-founded with leading travel industry service providers, Ctrip, Skyscanner, TripAdvisor and Visa, Travalyst has been created to mobilize the travel industry as a catalyst for good, aiming to transform the future of travel for everyone.

This first-of-its-kind partnership is dedicated to exploring and promoting solutions that will make travel more sustainable, by bringing together global businesses at the center of connecting customers and operators in the travel market to utilize their unique position to educate, raise awareness and promote positive change.

“The commitment from these different brands to work together and help build a global network of like-minded social entrepreneurs, NGOs and policymakers is truly inspiring. Collaboration is the only path forward if we want to create a real paradigm shift in travel,” said Gillian Tans, Chairwoman of “We want to protect the destinations we all love and guarantee that they are happy and healthy for generations to come, but we can’t do it on our own. Even though we don’t have all the answers yet, we are determined to find them together.”

Working with companies, consumers and communities, Travalyst will initially explore and promote solutions that help drive sustainable practices and consumer choices in areas including supporting local people, protecting wildlife, tackling climate change and environmental damage, and alleviating overtourism

The potential for impact

As more people travel, the impact on local communities and the environment increases; however, the number of opportunities to do good with each trip taken increases, too: Last year, the number of international trips taken globally each year reached 1.4 billion, two years faster than original projections, according to the World Tourism Organization; and the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that travel and tourism added $8.8 trillion to the global economy in 2018.

Travalyst intends to capitalize on the strength and breadth of the global travel market, foster increased collaboration across the industry, and stimulate and support new solutions and initiatives in sustainable travel. The founding partners want to spark a movement of like-minded companies, organizations, NGOs, entrepreneurs and other changemakers to transform the future of travel into a more sustainable one.

“Travel is a powerful means of bringing us closer — to share the beauty of our countries and our myriad cultures, to find our common humanity,” said Jane Sun, CEO of Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency. “But with travel comes the duty to protect our fragile planet — that’s why we are working with the brightest minds to ensure that generations to come can follow in our footsteps sustainably, and the world and its people can grow together.”

Consumer trends show increasing demand for positive impacts

There is a growing consumer demand for have easy and transparent access to a wider range of options to travel more sustainably. Alongside other recent initiatives from Kind Traveler, KimKim and KLM aimed at changing travel for the better, Travalyst wants to help companies meet that demand, as well as use this platform to engage consumers about the importance of sustainable practices. This partnership will also prioritize working with local communities, engaging social entrepreneurs and promoting best practice.

“Enabling global travel and commerce through digital payments is one of many ways Visa connects and empowers individuals, businesses and economies every day,” said Visa Chairman and CEO Al Kelly. “We are dedicated to doing so in a way that supports our commitment to sustainability. We are proud to be part of this initiative to support long-term economic growth through tourism.”

According to recent polling, more than half of all travelers say they are more determined to make more sustainable travel choices this year than they were last year — but many do not know how. Barriers include a lack of knowledge, perceived extra costs and not enough availability or appealing options when trying to put this into practice. That being said, impact on the local community and environment is a primary consideration for many travelers globally.

  • 71 percent of global travellers told that they think travel companies should offer more sustainable travel choices, and 68 percent of people said it was important the money they spent on travel went back into local communities.
  • Over the last 12 months, 10 million travellers using Skyscanner selected the lowest CO2-emission flight option.
  • 75 percent of Ctrip’s partners are committed to Ctrip’s 4R initiatives: to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle resources and Regenerate lives in the travel ecosystem
  • The global sustainable tourism market is predicted to grow by $340 billion, 10 percent, within the next four years.  

HRH The Duke of Sussex said: “Travel has the unparalleled power to open people’s minds to different cultures, new experiences and to have a profound appreciation for what our world has to offer. As tourism inevitably grows, it is critically important to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices worldwide; and to balance this growth with the needs of the environment and the local population. Bringing companies, consumers and communities together is our best chance to protect destinations and ecosystems for future generations.”

Unfortunately, Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle — both vocal environmentalists — have been blasted by critics for their family’s frequent travel by private jet. As he launched Travalyst in Amsterdam earlier this week, the Duke said: “I’ve learned we cannot dismiss the idea of trying to do something, just because we can’t do everything. We can all do better — and while no one is perfect, we all have a responsibility for our own individual impacts.”

During a Q&A after the launch, when asked about his use of private jets, he said, “I spend 99 percent of my life traveling the world by commercial; occasionally, there needs to be an opportunity, based on a unique circumstance, to ensure that my family are safe.”

CNN reported earlier this week that as a result of the scrutiny, the royal couple plan to travel commercial to Africa later this month.

Google’s ‘green’ maps feature encourages low-carbon transport options

Image credit: Google

Meanwhile, a new feature in Google Maps enables users to add last-mile ridesharing and biking options to their travel plans. The feature will work automatically, whenever a user searches for a destination and clicks “directions.”

Below the usual walking, biking, public transit and driving options, a menu of “mixed-mode” options will pop up, which will include biking or ride-sharing. For each trip, the lowest-carbon mode or combination of modes will be marked “green.” As before when using Google Maps, the “mixed mode” options will tell users how long their total journey is likely to take, along with the estimated cost.

“Google Maps has always helped you get from place to place, whether you’re driving, walking, biking or taking public transit,” Google’s product manager for maps, Vishal Dutta, explained in a blog post. “And we know that transit journeys can be complex–often involving multiple modes of transportation to help you get around town. Today, we’re making it easy to pair transit directions with biking and ridesharing options so you can travel that first or last mile with ease.”

Launched this week in the US, Google says transit directions paired with biking and ridesharing will start rolling out in the coming weeks on Android and iOS in 30 countries around the globe, with more coming soon.